Here’s another example of how the lack of affordable housing in Ventura County is impacting my life.
On Saturday I took the train to San Diego. I planned to depart at 7 a.m.
On Friday, I went to the gym after work, as I usually do, with every intention of stopping off at the Von’s pharmacy before 9 p.m. to pick up my heart medicine. Per usual, I had waited until I’d taken my last pill before ordering a refill.
When I arrived at Von’s, the pharmacy was closed. “New Fall Hours” the sign read. Closed at 7 p.m.
My medication is not something to trifle with, according to what my doctor’s told me. Skipping dosages, especially more than one, can be fatal. So I was a tad upset to find out I couldn’t get a refill right when I expected it. It would have been OK if I could have gotten into Von’s after nine o’clock the next morning, but I planned to be on a train by 9 a.m.
Fortunately, the pharmacist at another chain was willing to give me a couple of pills to hold me over. That apparently isn’t legal, but it is the ethical thing to do and I know happens all the time in similar circumstances.
Today, I finally got a chance to speak with the pharmacist at Von’s and he apologized, but said the only reason they have started closing early is he hasn’t been able to find anybody to fill the evening shift. No pharmacist wants to move to Ventura County and contend with local housing prices.
Why are housing prices so high in Ventura. Well, first, it is a great place to live. And with current interest rates, demand for housing is strong. But the biggest thing driving housing prices up is a cadre of slow-growth laws and slow-growth politicians and activists who don’t want to see any housing built in this county. There is plenty of good land to build on, but there are too many laws, regulations and fees that prevent builders from doing what they need to do.
Ventura’s rental vacancy rate is 1.7 percent. It is estimated that you need to earn at least $21 per hour to afford a decent apartment in Ventura County. That’s a big reason many Oxnard-area apartments have two, three and four families sharing small units.
As for buying a house in Ventura County — forget it. You need at least $400,000.
In Ventura County we have something called SOAR. I didn’t vote for it. It’s a particularly draconian anti-growth measure. It is the bane of every working family’s existance in Ventura County. If you want to know why there is a 1.7 percent vacancy rate in Ventura, look no further than SOAR. People like County Supervisor Steve Bennett will tell you that housing is all about supply and demand, and that to blame high prices entirely on SOAR is unfair. There is a lot of demand because of low interest rates. That may be true, but the people of Ventura can’t do anything about low interest rates (the demand side), but we can do something about the supply side. That is entirely within our power. Increase the supply and you drive down prices. It’s simple economics. That’s why I favor the repeal of SOAR and pray that some day that glorious event will come to pass.
In the meantime, I’m supporting Measure A this November. Measure A will allow a group of land owners to develop the hillsides behind the city of Ventura. The planning measure would protect the ridge lines, including the important and beautiful Two Trees area. But it allows development. And that’s the key point. The measure probably won’t pass because most voters are already home owners and it’s in their best interest to prevent development (drives up housing prices). People tell me I shouldn’t support it because more development means more traffic. When compared to high housing prices, I don’t care about the traffic. They tell me the new housing allowed under the measure won’t bring down housing prices because they will be rich people’s homes and there won’t be enough of them. And this is true. But a vote for Measure A is still a big “screw you” message to the SOAR fanatics. I will vote for anything that chips away at SOAR.
There are vast tracks of prime real estate in the city of Ventura that are undeveloped. Under SOAR, this land will never be developed. This is criminal. It is immoral. It prevents hard working people from getting good housing at a fair price. It means that my pharmacy can’t stay open until 9 p.m. because no right-minded pharmacist will move into a city he can’t afford to live in. That just isn’t right. It’s time to dump SOAR back into the garbage heap it came from.